Architecture's Response to Movement

by Fielding Lowrance

One of the most defining aspects of human life is the way we move. Bus, car, train, bike, and pedestrian traffic move through our cities, suburbs, and countrysides worldwide. Movement is necessary for productivity, for social interaction, and for the ability to visit and experience other environments. Because transportation is so essential to human life it has had a pronounced, though varied, effect on the architecture. Architects must always consider the circulation of people through the space in which they create. However, some works of architecture more directly reference the way in which the population moves around or through it. It is particularly interesting to note the way in which newer modes of travel, in particular cars and trains, have influenced the considerations of some architects.
Lucien den Arend - Omage to El Lissitsky
Still view 
Lucien den Arend - Omage to El Lissitsky
view in movement over tim
             Lucien den Arend’s Omage to El Lissitzky is an interesting example of the way in which architect can be influenced by movement. The topographical sculpture includes a red metal element and is located next to a highway. The form the Arend has created is meant to be viewed from the road from within a car in movement. This is particularly interesting because it recognizes and addresses the new dynamism of viewpoint that has come about with the advent of cars. The effect of Arend’s sculpture is not lessened by the movement of the cars that pass it. Instead the high speeds enhance the affect that Arend intended for his form. Other structures might lose their affect do to the blurring that occurs when an object is viewed at high speeds.
Max Wan - Master Plan for the Leidsche Rijn
diagram of bridges

Max Wan’s master plan for the Leidsche Rijn is another architectural work that makes a specific consideration of people’s movement. However, Wan’s approach to addressing movement is less visual. Rather, his master plan deals specifically with the circulation through his site. Two things about this plan are particularly interesting. First, the way in which Wan deals with the multiple means of transportation that will be used to move through the space. Wan denotes the different paths for different types of movement using various colors painted on the street. This gives the street a character that lend to the interpretation of the identity of the place. It also serves as a sort of record of movement. Even without directly witnessing interactions with the site, someone viewing it can see the way in which people are expected to move through it through the written record on the ground. The second interesting thing about the plan is the way in which he presents the path of pedestrian and bike traffic as organic and mutable, particularly in the forms he chooses for the bridges in the site. Wan includes fifty bridges in the plan for the Leidsche Rijn. The bridges are meant to transport pedestrians, bike traffic, and cars across the river that is present at the site. However the pedestrian paths often diverge from the rigid lines meant for car traffic. This allows people to choose the path most specific to their needs at the time when crossing the river. This move by Wan appears significantly more intention because of the fact that he makes it using bridges, and sets up a tension between the path of cars and that of pedestrians. 

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